Sunday, June 12, 2011

17 hours with January Jones...(THIS is a THING?!)

What's this all about? As the first-ever THIS is a THING, I'll treat you to the explanation:

THIS is a THING?! is my attempt to explain pop culture to you, without my actually having to endure the pop culture on my own; that is, I'll take something that's really popular among other people, and I'll try to explain it to you... but I'm not actually going to invest much*


of my time or energy in watching, listening to, smelling, touching, or otherwise experiencing that thing.

Today's THING that THIS is (!?) is:


What THIS THING is, in a nutshell: A lip dub is a lip synch. It's someone pretending to sing a song when they're not really.

Or, if you need 500+ words to say what I just said in 18, try the Wikipedia entry on it, which begins:

A lip dub is a type of video that combines lip synching and audio dubbing to make a music video. It is made by filming individuals or a group of people lip synching while listening to a song or any recorded audio then dubbing over it in post editing with the original audio of the song. There is often some form of mobile audio device used such as an MP3 players. Often they look like simple music videos, although many involve a lot of preparation and production. Lip dubs can be done in a single unedited shot that often travels through different rooms and situations within a building. They have become popular with the advent of mass participatory video content sites like YouTube.

The fact that pseudoacademics persist in saying things like "with the advent of mass participatory video content sites like YouTube" is why Republicans are able to convince the general public to cut funding for higher education, so knock it off, you twits.

How I, and maybe YOU, heard about THIS THING: I read about it on NPR's Monkey See blog, but let's face it, you probably didn't. The audience for a blog that (as I write this) is headed with a post titled "Tragedy And Comic Structure In The Tony-Nominated 'The Normal Heart'" is probably a pretty small one, whereas blogs that have headlines like "And Now A Compliment For January Jones" and which feature her wearing yoga pants generate more hits in a day than I will in a lifetime.

That's just the way life goes. You spend your time thinking smart, creative things about pop culture, and four people read your blog. But spend your time posting pictures of January Jones in her underwear, like this one which is here purely for illustrative purposes to demonstrate how demographics work:

Pictured: Science.

and you'll get tons of hits.

Here's what Monkey See, which also is notably short on pictures of January Jones in her underwear like this one, which does not appear on Monkey See:

The reason NPR's funding keeps getting cut.

Where was I? Here's what Monkey See had to say about Lip Dubs that made me want to learn more about them:

If you were online over the Memorial Day weekend, you may well have seen The Grand Rapids Lip Dub. Maybe you saw it after Roger Ebert called it "the greatest music video ever made." Maybe someone you know posted it to Facebook. Maybe someone e-mailed you the link. But by whatever channel, there's a decent chance you've stumbled on it: posted last Thursday, the video has already racked up over 1.3 million views, and that's over a holiday weekend.
Doesn't that make you want to learn more about what this lip dub thing might be? It made me want to learn more, although even as I recognized that I wanted to find out more about this thing, I also recognized I would want to do that but ultimately would not be learning more about it, because lately whenever I start to look things up on the Internet, it just devolves into searches for January Jones or some such...

... I bet you thought I was going to put a picture of her there, didn't you? But I'm not because (a) I'm pretty sure that my search history on my computers is monitored by the Trilateral Commission, and (b) I'm a serious journalist, the kind who uses only one exclamation point in many of his headlines.

Monkey See's interest in Lip Dub's was, in fact, enough to get me interested in them but ultimately, not so interested that I bothered watching the video on their post, which says a lot about me, I suppose, but this post isn't about me, as I am not a THING, yet.

When did THIS THING start?
That's kind of an interesting question. If you mean When did lip synching start, then the answer is "around the time that The Beatles were appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show," if not earlier, unless you meant people lip synching to songs they didn't originally sing, in which case I'd say that pop-culture-wise, lip synching became a THING when this happened:

That's the earliest known popular lip synch video that I can recall, and if I can't recall something, it's clearly not worth recalling, so let's just stick with what I know about stuff. If you think there's an earlier superpopular lip synch scene, leave it in the comments.

But there are other popular lip synchs, including this one, which is way better than the Risky Business one and is a classic of filmmaking:

You go, Duckie. Raise your hand if you wanted Duckie to get Molly Ringwald in the end.

Me, too.

In the original ending to the movie, Duckie got the girl. You can read the end of the script here.

And, just to keep things focused on what this post is truly about, here's one from a British film called "The Boat That Rocked." (We Americans know that movie either as Pirate Radio or "That was actually a movie?")

It's not immediately apparent from that clip, but the reason that man is lip-synching -- no lie -- is because his wife of 17 hours has just (in the movie) left him.

That wife? Played by January Jones.

And, no, I'm not going to put a picture of her there, either. Serious journalist + monitoring my internet use, remember?

With lip synchs going back all the way to the 1980s -- which is as far back as history should go, so screw you, Baby Boomers -- the question might be asked, When did they begin calling them lip-dubs?

The Internet Meme Hall Of Fame isn't helpful at all; they call them lip dubs but have no history of them. For that, you have to go back to Wikipedia, which is so reliable that people could repeatedly change American history in order to support Sarah Palin's version of it, but so uncool and unhip that not a single person in charge of that thought to credit one of the changes to Winston.

Wikipedia claims that the term lip dub was coined by "Jake Lodwick," the founder of Vimeo. Which is a nice consolation, I suppose: He gets credit for coining a term, while the found of Youtube gets $1.65 billion.

When Did THIS THING officially pass into pop culture? THIS is not a THING until it catches on in pop culture, and in this case, it appears that the point where Lip Dubs as a THING began to exist in September, 2010, when The Office did this:

Is THIS THING still going on? THINGS don't necessarily last forever, and some of them stumble around, zombie-like, even after they are clearly dead. The lifespan of a THING stretches from when it is born -- the point where most people become aware of it -- until it dies. But, as I said, sometimes THINGs don't know they're dead, so I'll give you a definite measurement of when a THING dies:

A THING dies when someone older than you does it or tells you about it.

Which means that (since I'm 42) this post officially killed Lip Dubs for many of you. Glad to help out.

(There are other ways to kill a THING. For example, any politician doing any THING instantly kills it:

Doesn't matter who the politician is. Bill Clinton officially killed sax solos when he went on Arsenio.

Once a thing dies, it becomes sad and pathetic -- think of People Marching Into Their Weddings In Humorous Fashion To Popular Songs -- and almost nothing can rescue it, although some THINGs can come back from the dead -- sax solos are one of those THINGs, right now, being slowly resurrected.

In this case, Lip Dubs have taken a lot of body blows, but they're not dead yet. We appear to be at the pinnacle of the Lip Dub era, as evidenced by the fact that I finally watched this:

And it's really very cool.

Also, I can't resist it any more. Screw you, Trilateral Commission:

Can You Sum Up Lip Dubs For People Who Skimmed Through This Post And Just Want A Quick Takeaway?

This guy:

runs his own network; and, has appeared in five commercials, two TV episodes and at least two music videos, among other media appearances. He's also released a couple of CDs.

1 comment:

Andrew Leon said...

So what I'm getting out of this is that no one can stand to spend more than 17 hours with January Jones and that weird head shake thing she does that makes her look like she just walked into a spider web when clearly she did not.